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brown paper packages: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

{giveaway} the ruffled daisy


I have been in love with burlap for so long, I can't even remember when I didn't.  Amber, from The Ruffled Daisy is a girl after my own heart, which beats a little faster when I see all the darling items in her etsy shop.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

{yummy halloween food}

We all know holidays are all about the food, right?  :)  I have some yummy Halloween food ideas for you today--including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and (of course) a few treats.  Many of these are simple, but darling ideas, and great for both little people and big people alike! Now just to decide which ones to make...


Orange Pumpkin Pancakes with Black Cinnamon Syrup & Spiders



Have a great weekend, everyone!  Wish me luck--running a half marathon on Saturday! Our family is turning it into a little getaway for a few days, and I'm so excited!

I'll be back on Monday, with a fantastic giveaway...*hint*...burlap is involved...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

{holiday windows & frames}

Okay, so you all know how much I love windows.  My husband jokes that pretty soon I'm going to have as many on the inside of my house as I do on the outside.  ☺ 

I absolutely love how these turned out. If you don't have a window, you can use any frame, which I also did. I took a window, and turned it into a darling piece of holiday decor, then used the same method on a frame to make a thankful dry erase board.  The process is easy to do, and can be completed in a day--that's my kind of project!

  • window or frame
  • painters tape
  • newspaper or other paper
  • spray paint
  • vinyl lettering
1.  If you need to paint your the outside part of your window or frame, do this first.  Remove the glass from your frame, then paint.  If you're using a window, use painters tape and newspaper (I used paper towels) to cover the glass.  I love layering paint--with one color underneath, another on top, and then when you sand/distress, the bottom color shows through and makes it look weathered.  In this case, the window I had was already cream, which is exactly what I would have painted the bottom layer, so I totally lucked out having to skip that step.  I painted the top layer red (Rustoleum's Colonial Red, satin finish = ♥), so the cream would show through once I sanded.

(this is how my frame was originally, so I could skip this first step)

2.  Once your paint is totally dry, you're ready to sand your little guts out.  I {heart} my power sander; it's in definite top three of tools I could not live without.  I really wanted it distressed, and for that cream paint to show through, so I took off quite a bit of paint.  If  you are doing more than one window or frame, make sure to change out your sandpaper between them.  If not, you'll add unwanted color from your first to your second window or frame.  Use a damp rag and wipe off all of the paint dust.

3. Next step is to cut out and add your vinyl.  You will be cutting it (or ordering it) it in REVERSE, since you will be adding it to the back of your window or frame.  Make sure you don't skip that step, or it will not work.  I used my new Cameo, which I love, to cut out my vinyl.  ♥  The font for give thanks is "My Own Topher", and the pumpkins are from the Silhouette online store.  The font for the Christmas window is "Typewriter", and the tree is also from the Silhouette online store. When your vinyl is ready, add it to THE BACK of the window or glass.

 4.  Now you're ready to paint the window!  I used a cream paint (my favorite cream= Rustoleum's Heirloom White, satin finish) for the inside of my window and the frame's glass.  Spray the BACK of the window, over the top of the vinyl.  It may take a couple of coats for it to be fully covered and smooth, so no paint splotches show through on the front side. Let dry completely.  

Ta-da!  Darling holiday decor!  This method certainly is not limited to holiday projects--I'm currently in the process of making one for my girls' bedroom. Think of all the possibilities!  I love it too, because the front is totally smooth, and won't get ruined, smudged, or scratched.  Since the paint and vinyl are on the back side, they are protected.
I have the perfect place for this in my foyer!

I'm really excited for this one, too.  It will go in my kitchen, and be a place where we can call add all the things we are thankful for--perfect for the Thanksgiving season.

*TIP:  When writing on glass, and using it as a dry erase surface, use a fine tip Sharpie instead of a dry erase marker.  Unlike dry erase markers, you can slide your hand across the glass and the Sharpie won't come off, but it's easily removed with a wet rag or paper towel!

P.S.  Don't forget about the October Silhouette Promo...a Cameo + Started Kit of your choice for $299!  Use the code BPP to take advantage of this fantastic offer!

{silhouette cameo & promo}

GUESS WHAT!!!  It's here!!!  I am seriously so excited about this!!

The new Cameo arrived on my doorstep a few days ago, thanks to the fantastic people over at Silhouette.  I opened it up right away (after doing a little happy dance--my kids thought I was crazy), along with the vinyl starter kit they sent along with it.  I was totally impressed with the starter kit--it comes beautifully packaged, and contains the following items:
  • 4 sheets of premium vinyl (9" x 24" of black, white, dark pink, leaf green)
  • 10 feet of premium transfer paper
  • Silhouette hook
  • Silhouette scraper
  • exclusive download card good for 10 vinyl designs
  • idea booklet and instruction guide
  • instructional DVD
Can I just say that I LOVE the Silhouette hook and scraper?  It makes working with vinyl SO much easier. Oh, and just so you know, the vinyl that comes with the starter kit is 9 inches, so it works with an SD as well.  If you have an SD, I would still consider buying just the starter kit--the hook, scraper, and four different vinyls totally make it worth it!

When I opened the Cameo box, I was immediately impressed with its appearance, but once I uploaded the software and figured out a little more about how it worked, I was in love.

Okay, so here's the deal.  


Silhouette Cameo + Starter Kit of your choice = $299

Just make sure to use the code "BPP"!

The word on the street (from my Silhouette guy) is that these are going to go FAST, so if you are dying for one, head on over now!  I would also start dropping some major Christmas hints...

I'm excited to share with you a project I made using the will be up soon!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

{special weekend giveaway} shutterfly holiday cards

  Every fall we get our family pictures taken, and one of the goals is take one that will be perfect for our Christmas cards. Since having so many little ones, my definition of "perfect" has changed slightly.  Really. I'll take just about anything where people are looking pleasant and I'm not looking at the back of any heads. This year?  Pictures, check. Now I've already started working on my Shutterfly!  

They have so many choices---including color, layout, how many pictures you can include, text, folded or flat, and the list goes on.  I love just browsing through all the options, and I know I'll be able to get just what I want. The hardest part is actually narrowing it down to your final choice!

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

{chalkboard coasters}

The holidays are quickly arriving, which means wonderful times with family and friends.  I love to come up with ways to make this time of year special, and I find that the simple touches are really the things that can make the biggest difference.

These DIY tile coasters are one of those simple touches. They are perfect for your holiday table or party, and since you can make them into a mini chalkboard, can act as placards for your guests. Using colors to match your Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas tables would be darling! Looking for a fun and different hostess gift?  Anyone would love to receive these, and they are so simple to make, you will love them too!
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

{caramels + apples} tips, tricks, & recipes

 I {love} caramel, and I am always on the hunt for the perfect caramel, whether as a candy, a topping, or to dip apples in. This is absolutely the best time of year to enjoy it, which might be one of the reasons I love fall so much.

This year I was determined to try and make the perfect caramel apple. I've tried several different recipes, including the good old Kraft caramels, and while I've liked several of them, I didn't love any of them.  Another problem?  My caramel would slide off the apples and leave more on the plate than on my apple.  (Not that that would stop me from eating them...and scraping all that caramel off the plate, lol.) 

To my delight, I stumbled across another homemade caramel recipe, and a few tips that totally made the difference.  Making the caramel didn't take too much longer than melting wrapped caramels, especially because there's nothing to unwrap! 

1. Wash your apples well, and let dry completely. (I love Granny Smith apples best for caramel apples, which as you can tell from the picture I didn't use.  I made these on a whim on Sunday afternoon, and these were all I had on hand.)  Poke a wooden stick ( I use popsicle/craft sticks you can buy at your local craft store) in the center of the apple.

2.  Okay, ready for the best tip ever?

I cannot believe the difference this made.  It really works!  I used a fine grit sandpaper, and gently roughed up the apple--not taking off any of the skin. Doing this removes some of the waxiness, and allows the caramel to stick.

3.  Spray a cookie sheet ( I use the back side) with Pam OR rub it with butter.  Pam can leave a slight taste to the bottom of the apples. This is where you'll put your apples to cool after they're dipped.  I've found that the apples will stick even to parchment paper or wax paper, so I don't use either one.

4.  Make your caramel, following the recipe exactly. When I saw that it came from a professional chocolate maker, I figured it would be good, and I wasn't wrong--I love love it! You really do need to stir constantly, scraping the sides often.  If you don't have a candy thermometer, I would invest in one--I use mine all the time.  I also use the cold water test--dropping some of the caramel into a cup of cold water is an easy way to see which stage your caramel is at.


1/2 c. butter
1 c. light corn syrup
2 c. brown sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
8-10 apples


Combine the first three ingredients in a large saucepan.  When the butter is melted, add the condensed milk.  Stirring constantly, cook to 230 degrees (soft ball stage).  Take off heat, and stir in vanilla.

5. Dip your apples! 

I found that waiting just a couple of minutes after your caramel is done to dip apples really made a big difference--when it's super hot, it has more of a tendency to slide off. You don't need to wait too long--less than 5 minutes.

6.  Once your apples have been dipped in the caramel, place them on your prepared cookie sheet.  I let mine sit for about 10 minutes or so (either in the fridge or at room temperature) to harden before I add any other toppings.  Leftover caramel can be poured in a buttered dish to be cut and eaten later...

Favorites?  Dipped/drizzled with white chocolate, then in cinnamon & sugar; dipped in chocolate, drizzled in peanut butter, then rolled in PB cups; white chocolate with chocolate drizzles and toffee bits...yum!

I melt chocolate chips in the microwave, then spoon into a sandwich bag.  Push the chocolate into the corner of the bag, then snip a tiny bit off of the corner--an easy piping bag that makes the best drizzles!

7.  Place apples in the refrigerator to firm up--then you're ready to eat and enjoy!


Another easy way to enjoy caramel & apples?  A delicious caramel sauce, perfect for dipping apples!

Buttery Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup whipping cream

In a medium saucepan, combine sugars, syrup, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a full boil, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. Stir in whipping cream. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator. It's best served warm.

Now I'm off to eat some caramel. ☺

Friday, October 14, 2011

{printables} do you boo?

One of our favorite family traditions during the month of October is "boo-ing" our neighbors.  It makes the perfect family night activity--eating making treats, attaching a fun poem, then sneaking around in the dark ringing doorbells while giggling hysterically and finally running away like mad after making the drop, all the while hoping not to get caught.

Oh yes--it definitely makes for the most memorable family nights ever. ☺

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite boo printables--all darling, and free!


the tomkat studio #1




Happy Boo-ing!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

{an "eek"citing halloween gift idea}

Have I mentioned that I have a total obsession for tin pails?  Seriously. When I see them, I cannot walk by them without stopping, and most of the time without buying at least one.  First of all, I think they are the cutest things ever, and secondly, they are so versatile.  I use them for everything!

We all love the one spot at Target, right? They always have the small tin pails for each holiday, and when I saw the ones for Halloween, I thought they were darling. At only $1 a piece, they are perfect for my budget too.

It's fun to have something you can give for Halloween, whether it's to ladies you visit each month, teachers, neighbors, or friends.  These little pails are perfect, especially filled with white chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. (Say that 5 times fast, lol.)  

I bought peanut butter filled pretzels, dipped one end in white chocolate (melted white chocolate chips), then sprinkled them with Halloween-colored sprinkles.  They are super easy to make, and SO yummy.

I tucked some black tissue paper into the bottom of the pail (the crumpled effect is all thanks to my 2 two year old boys...), filled it with pretzels, tied it with a ribbon and a fun little tag. 

Quick, easy, and darling!
Here's the tag, if you would like to use it: (Right click on the image, and save to your hard drive.  Insert into a word document, and size it the way you like it.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

{photography with lei} holiday photos: fall & halloween

Hey friends!  Remember me?    Ha - it's been a while!  And I have missed talking shop with you all.  Hope you've been practicing, because we are going to dive into how to get some fun holiday photos!  Halloween is first on the list, so let's get the creative juices flowing for how to capture your kiddos in their cute costumes and other fun fall activites.

I love this time of year... the colors outside are warm and rich.  Nature has so much to offer in the way of great Fall pictures!  One of my favorite things to do is to take my kids to a pumpkin patch.  You can get some really, really fun photos of your kids in pumpkin patches.  But you can also get away from the crowd and create your own little pumpkin scene.

I took these pictures a couple years ago, just as I was starting to really get serious about my photography.  I brought a few different pumpkins to an old abandoned barn near my house and had a little photo session with my two youngest kids.  Easy going and fun for us all... and I love how the pictures turned out!  Kids really do so much better in pictures when they have fun props, or something to DO rather than just stand there and smile!
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

{featured guest} the letter 4

Hey all you Brown Paper Packages fans! I'm Jamie from

and I am super duper excited to be here! Kierste is so awesome for having me. I adore this blog, she is so incredibly talented!

Our blog is basically a place where all 4 of us sisters share our projects. We were all so close growing up and now that we live so far away from each other, this blog helps us feel a little closer. We all have different talents and having this blog I have enjoyed seeing my sisters talents grow and so many of my ideas have been inspired by them! I <3 you sisters!

Guess what? I LOVE fall! The colors are amazing! I wanted to bring the leaves inside my home this year so I made a leaf garland inspired by a fall printable I made earlier. I didn't make just any leaf garland. I made one made with real leaves, and not just that! Heart shaped leaves! Say what?!?! Oh yes. Heart shaped leaves.

You probably already have everything you need to make this:
An iron, some leaves, paintbrush, mod podge, some scissors, and some string to hang the leaves on

I ironed the leaves to flatten them out, then I covered them in mod podge (this step is optional but it gives them a nice gloss and holds them together better when cutting them) after the mod podge is dry , cut them into hearts, hang them on a string, then hang them up in the window for the sun to shine through them because it looks amazing!

Like I said, the colors are awesome. I'm also really glad I did this because my mom just sent me pictures of snow outside their house! This way I'm guaranteed to have fall colors for a little while longer :)
Thanks so much again Kierste for having me! You are awesome!


Thank you so much, Jamie--what a fun idea!  Make sure you stop by The Letter 4...they are super creative, and you won't want to leave!